What is Spanking?


Do you remember the last time you got a “Whopping” in your ass? You probably got upset with your Mum or Dad.

Well, parenthood is a hard job. From the happiness and thrill of finally holding your baby, to the frustration and the angry face of disapproval of your child’s misbehavior.

Every child is different in attitude and character. But at some point, they all tend to go array and misbehave.

Parents in their best and right sense of morality, must correct that child, and as such, they all employ different methods and approaches in correcting the behavioral pattern of a child.

One of the top methods is Spanking! Spanking is actually a common form of corporal punishment.

It involves the act of striking the buttocks of another person to cause physical pain, generally with an open hand.

More severe forms of spanking, such as paddling, belting, caning, whipping, and birching etc.

They all involve the use of an object instead of a hand. Adults more commonly spank boys than girls, both at home and in school. 

To begin with, as with all forms of correction, the concepts of punishment and discipline are absolute opposites.

Punishment is motivated by anger, focuses on the past, and results in either compliance (due to fear) or rebellion and feelings of shame, guilt and/or hostility.

On the other hand, discipline is motivated by love for the child, focuses on the future, and results in obedience and feelings of security.

This is because the term discipline derives from the root word “disciple” which means “to teach.”

Parents have an ongoing opportunity and responsibility to teach their children how to live life as effectively and healthfully as possible.

What we want children to understand is that the gentle sting of a spanking is connected to the greater and often long-term pain of harmful choices.

Simply put, prevention is easier than cure. Parents may spank children in response to undesired behavior.

You can say that spanking is an appropriate form of discipline.

Reasons for Spanking

A popular quote gotten from the Bible says that: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him”. If you have never heard this before, you probably must have heard this one- “Spare the rod and spoil the child!”.

This means that one who loves a child will correct that child by all means including spanking; but the parents that chose to ignore the rod, spoils the child.

In other words, the child gets worse. So, what other reasons do we spank our children?


 When kids frequently misbehave, parents may feel as though all measures have been ineffective and they are unsure of what else to do. Parents in these situations might say, “Nothing else seems to work.” Then they spank their kids.


This is similar to desperation. It means that spanking might be done out of impulse, or anger or provocation. A parent who reacts out of frustration (“I can not believe you just did that!”) might spank a child without thinking. Parents admit they have occasionally spanked their child—especially when they were feeling overly pressured and stressed.

The above two are the major reasons, so whichever camp you belong to, you need to know and closely consider the potential consequences of physical punishment, including spanking.

Further thoughts: Does it have a positive and negative effect?

woman spanking child

Also, about spanking in schools, there have not been as many studies addressing corporal punishment in the schools, but the research that exists is consistent with what we know about parental spanking.

In countries throughout the world, school corporal punishment is linked with worse emotional and academic outcomes (Gershoff 2017; Ogando Portela 2015; Talwar et al 2011). There is also evidence that acts of public shaming backfire.

They tend to make individuals feel either hopeless, or angry and unrepentant. These are not feelings that inspire kids to improve their behavior. And then there is a very different problem, which is that kids are not subjected to equal treatment.

Studies reveal that corporal punishment is meted out with bias. For example, in U.S. states where corporal punishment in the schools is legal, Black students are more likely to receive physical punishment than White students, and this disparity is unrelated to rates of misbehavior.

For a given offense, black children receive more severe punishments than white students do (Gershoff and Font 2016). Some countries have outlawed the spanking of children in every setting, including homes, schools, and penal institutions, but most allow it when done by a parent or guardian.

In many countries today, people are questioning their traditional acceptance of spanking, and making big changes. Since 1979, 54 nations have outlawed corporal punishment (Global Initiative to End Corporal Punishment of Children 2019).

The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently issued recommendations that parents avoid all forms of physical punishment, including spanking (Sege et al 2018).

Yet some parents still favor corporal punishment, especially those who endorse authoritarian principles of child-rearing (Coley et al 2016; Friedson 2016; Gunroe 2013).

Now adays, spanking has decreased as many parents both in Africa and beyond no longer approve of this method. But a positive side to this is that Spanking works and it has positive effects on the child.

A research, reported by the CTV news in the U.S, started that “children spanked by their parents may perform better at school and grow up to be happier than those who don’t receive such punishment”.

What else can be done?

As children age, spanking should become even less frequent and administered within a proper guideline as other types of consequences are utilized. Also, a child should never be abused. Spanking should be phased out completely before adolescence.

Depending on your own point of view, you can choose to consider alternatives such as:

  • Removing privileges: This works by removing certain privileges enjoyed by your child. This helps in reinforcing your rules without causing physical hurt to your child. Examples includes, no parties, no T.V, no candies and sweets, etc.
  • Praise good behavior: When you catch your child “doing good,” make sure they know that you noticed. Kids tend to perform to parents’ expectations. You could also praise your child with a reward system. This encourages positive behavior.
  • Take a heart to heart talk with your child: Having a heart to heart talk with your child helps mentally and psychologically. You could have a timeout with the child. Try to understand the reason for the behavior because kids sometimes act-out because they need attention. Timeout gives you time to help your child/children work through their emotions in a physically safe space. 


Parenting is a hard job. None of us do it perfectly. But our children need us to do it to the best of our ability, with all the wisdom, love, gentleness and strength we can muster. We won’t go wrong if we exercise a firm and consistent hand with a soft and loving heart.


  • (Gershoff 2017; Ogando Portela 2015; Talwar et al 2011. School Corporal Punishment in Global Perspective: Prevalence, Outcomes, and Efforts at Intervention).
  • Coley et al 2016; Friedson 2016; Gunroe 2013, The Concept and Components of Engagement in Different Domains Applied to eHealth: A Systematic Scoping Review).
  • Contentious study says spanking may benefit children; CTVNEWS
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